Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This Is the Sound...of Cylons

I was resistant at first. I've been rather tired of all the attempts lately to redo all the great shows from my youth. I was even more wary after reading the producers' promise to make it "more grown up". But other people have gievn it positive reviews, including some whose tastes I usually trust. So I finally gave in.

I watched the new Battlestar Galactica.

Just the original miniseries, mind you. I can't afford to rent a whole season. My verdict? Well done. Not perfect, but well done. I like the new Cylon ships. There is something visceral about watching all those missiles streaming toward their targets. Especially the scene when two fighters attack the convoy of ships that get left behind at the last moment.

I like the photography, mostly for the reasons above. The wide-shots of distant battles really, really works in this instance. And it doesn't get overly cluttered. George Lucas should take notes. As for the battles themselves, I think someone has been studying their Babylon 5.

I like the technology and feel of the Galactica (I believe my brother mentioned this, too). In spite of the rather convoluted rank system, they've managed to capture a fairly realistic experience similar to what I believe life to be on a naval vessel of today. They made some very good character choices (I'm liking the chief engineer guy very, very much).

I like Mary McDonnell. I loved her in Independence Day, and I love her here. She turns in the best performance of the cast. Her character is wonderful.

There are some holes, though. Perhaps they get plugged later in the series?

For example, the Cylons are supposedly in constant contact with their central system or something so that their consciousness can be reloaded into another body. Fine. Cool. I see some potential problems with that the farther away from Home they get, unless they've also developed FTL communications.

But you can't run a networked system like that without a transmitter. Each Cylon would have to have their own transmitter. That would make them detectable. Or should.

Further more, the idea of Cylon moles that don't even know they are moles is a bit much. Especially if they are supposedly undetectable from humans in almost every way. That would mean they have to have similar-looking MRIs of their brain activity. Where exactly would you hide a second, independent personality that wouldn't leave a big blank spot on their brain scans? Granted, no one has tried that yet.

But even that aside, you'd have to not only activate their new programming, but turn off their old or else you'll have a massive internal conflict. Perhaps they will. We've supposedly not seen it happen yet.

And where did the note come from about there being 12 Cylon models? Unless I missed something, Baltar didn't have that information (ed. Yes, I missed something. #6 told Baltar she was one of twelve. At the time I thought she was talking about her specific model. Still, why did she tell him if it can be used against them?). If he got it from his Cylon brain-parasite, why would SHE want them to know? For that matter, if she is for real and not just a psychosis of Baltar's, just why DOES she care so much for him? Why is she willing to help him--and hence humanity? Not a hole, but certainly a major unanswered question.

Commander Adama's "Earth" speech at the end was pretty hokey in my mind. I was not the least bit convinced that he really knew where it was--and this is from someone who grew up on the original where Earth WAS real, and they DID find it (and promptly jumped the shark). So why did anyone else buy it? Were they so desperate for a hope to cling to?

I do hope they give more insight as to why Adama changed his mind about fighting and decided to run instead, because other than watching two youngsters flirting, I saw nothing to indicate a reason. Not strong enough, in my book. Either that, they didn't show that his dedication to continuing the fight was not so strong. Other than his speech at the decommissioning, which just doesn't jibe with the rest of his character after that.

Anyway, I have the opportunity to borrow the first four seasons from someone at work, and I'll probably take them up on it. But I do hope they give more more excitement than "Oh my gosh, who are the Cylon infiltrators."

Perhaps everything will make sense, and all the pieces will fall into place later. I'm willing to give it a shot. But so far I am bothered by some of the holes and a general lack of substance. The special effects will only hold me so long.

UPDATE: Something finally went click the other night. Ronald Moore, who writes the show, was also a writer for Deep Space Nine. The only question now is whether he was selected because he had experience in writing "the evil guys look just like us and could be anywhere" screenplays already, or if he took the show that direction himself because he just can't get enough of that particular plotline.

I can get enough of it. If I do start watching the series I really, really hope this doesn't turn into a "Dominion" reload.

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